Much has been written from a theoretical perspective about markets for ecosystem services, few on-the-ground projects currently exist. WRI has just published a new brief, to discuss one that does, an innovative project called The Carbon Canopy, led by Asheville-based Dogwood Alliance and office products company Staples. The project is a consortium of companies (including Columbia Forest Products, Domtar and Coca Cola), large and small private woodland owners, and environmental organizations (including Rainforest Alliance and Pacific Forest Trust) that seeks to leverage markets for ecosystem services with the aim of increasing the area of protected lands in the Southern US and increase the acreage of forests certified under sustainable management. Carbon Canopy is developing a win-win model for businesses, landowners and environmental groups working to conserve forests in the South, the largest paper and wood-producing region in the world, through the new carbon marketplace.
When managed appropriately, forests can yield many economic, climate, water, and other benefits, including forest products. And placing forests under sustainable certification can help ensure these benefits into the future. However, only a small portion of the 214 million acres of Southern U.S. forests are currently certified to sustainable forest management standards. Many woodland owners lack information about certification and are uncertain of its financial benefits, and the limits on harvest volumes required to meet the guidelines often limit the size and revenue from timber harvesting.
The institutions in the Carbon Canopy partnership provide the technical and business expertise necessary to do actual project development, and Carbon Canopy acts as an important facilitator between the landowners and the corporate buyers of the carbon offsets and wood products.
Andrew Goldberg, Director of Corporate Engagement at Dogwood Alliance, views the development of the Carbon Canopy and the broader ecosystem services marketplace as a critical opportunity to protect Southern U.S. forests:
“The Carbon Canopy is building a new paradigm for landowners, one in which they can actually profit from improving forest management practices that protect our climate, water and biodiversity.”
Carbon Canopy leverages the greening of the US marketplace into a source of revenue for landowners that manage working forests for long-term carbon sinks under Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest management and Climate Action Reserve (CAR) carbon accounting protocols. By building the FSC infrastructure and endorsing certified sustainable management where appropriate, Carbon Canopy also supports the greening of the forest products industry which is critical for rural economy.
Mark Buckley, VP of Environmental Affairs at Staples, believes that the Carbon Canopy approach offers a win-win solution:
“Staples and other buyers can purchase carbon offsets and the fiber supplied by engaged woodland owners and, in turn, woodland owners are financially compensated for providing valuable benefits to society, which helps protect forests.”
Currently, the Carbon Canopy has projects under development that span approximately 26,000 acres including both large and small private landowners in the Southern Appalachians of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. View the new WRI report Insights from the Field: Forests for Climate and Timber here. For more information, please contact: Andrew Goldberg.